Making Your Courses WAC

General information: FAU has adopted a Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) program. Courses that previously met the Gordon Rule writing requirement should now be proposed as WAC courses. The Honors College has its own WAC committee that can approve courses for WAC.

To convert an existing Gordon Rule course: revise the syllabus as appropriate and add the required language indicated below, and submit to the HC Curriculum Committee, which also serves as the HC WAC committee. Upon their review, they will notify you if any changes are needed; if they approve, they will send the course to the WAC Director, who will confirm that guidelines are met. Once he confirms, the CC committee will forward your proposal to the University Undergraduate Programs Committee (UUPC).

Note that faculty who teach a WAC course must be WAC-certified, which requires attending a WAC seminar. These are offered each semester and can be taken via videoconference. Criteria for making your course a WAC course are listed below. Deviations from any of the criteria below will need to be justified in writing for review and certification purposes.

A summary checklist is available here.

Where appropriate, faculty are encouraged to propose Thesis courses as WAC courses: a model template is available here.

Step by step process

I. Fill out the appropriate form: New Course or Course change. If it's a new course, consult the guidelines for proposing a new course. Feel free to consult with former or present members of the curriculum committee if you have any questions about filling out these forms. A list of these faculty can be found on the faculty resources page.

II. Your syllabus must clearly demonstrate how the course meets WAC guidelines. The criteria below are taken from WAC guidelines, click here to visit the Criteria Designation page.

Criteria for proposed WAC Syllabi for 1933 and 2000-4000 Level Courses

1. All WAC syllabi must inform students of the writing-intensive nature of the course, using language such as:

"This writing intensive course serves as one of two "Gordon Rule" classes at the 2000-4000 level that must be taken. You must achieve a grade of "C" (not C-minus) or better to receive credit. Furthermore, this class meets the University-wide Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) criteria, which expect you to improve your writing over the course of the term. Writing-to-learn activities have proven effective in developing critical thinking skills, learning discipline-specific content, and understanding and building competence in the modes of inquiry and writing for various disciplines and professions."

2. All WAC syllabi must indicate that they include writing assignments that engage students in intellectual activities central to the course objectives. For example, if appropriate, you might say: "Writing assignments promote critical thinking and analytical writing; require students to analyze academic discourse and non-academic reportage; encourage students to recognize and examine the intellectual and/or cultural assumptions that underlie course readings and their own writing."

3. WAC syllabi should indicate that at least two graded writing assignments are to be completed out of class. To fulfill this criterion, faculty may create a longer assignment that can be completed in stages that also includes revision.

4. The syllabus must make it clear that writing assignments will count for at least 50% of the course grade. “Graded writing” typically means formal writing assignments that are graded based on writing quality – academic argument, organization, format, sentence level concerns, etc. However, informal writing may also contribute to the course grade. Examples of informal writing may include drafts, revisions, journal entries and reading logs, free writing, written responses to assigned readings, lectures and activities, and writing or oral presentations by other students. The WAC Committtee/Director generally do not count in-class exam essays as graded writing. Faculty who find it difficult to comply with the 50% rule may provide a written justification as part of their course proposal that will be considered by the WAC Committee/Director.

5. The syllabus must provide a clear, written description of each graded writing assignment and its evaluation criteria. Typically, these descriptions are a few sentences long, describing the central features of the project and the general criteria for grading. There is no need to incorporate full writing assignment descriptions in the syllabus.

For example: “This will be a five page paper requiring the students to respond to a prompt that requires critical engagement with assigned texts, formation and defense of a thesis, and citation of texts to support the argument. Grading will be based on overall coherence, grammar, extent to which supporting evidence is appropriately cited, persuasiveness of the argument, and extent to which an understanding of the texts is demonstrated."

6. Approved syllabi include a schedule for writing assignments that allocates class time for discussing strategies to improve student writing. Some class time scheduling options include:
  • Discussion of assignments and of evaluation criteria.
  • Analysis and discussion of sample student papers, including writing-in-progress and formal drafts.
  • Peer group activities that prepare students to write a particular paper, such as sharing and discussion of plans, outlines, strategies, theses and drafts.
  • Discussion or presentations of students' research in progress.
  • Instruction about how to write a particular type of paper or solving a common writing problem.
  • Discussion of writing particular elements of a paper such as thesis statements, introductions, topic sentences, conclusions, etc.

7. WAC syllabi require students to make a substantial revision of at least one graded assignment; this can be a global revision involving a major re-working of the paper. All students are invited to use University Center for Excellence in Writing (UCEW) error tracking system, which is available through the UCEW scheduling system.

8. The syllabus must include a plan for students to receive substantive written feedback from the instructor on all writing that leads to a grade; Typically, a brief statement is included in the syllabus that explains when formal commentary will be provided.

9. Approved WAC syllabi require each student to write a target of 5,000 words (+ or – 1,000 words). This target is intended to help professors gauge the minimal amount of writing that is typically considered appropriate for WAC syllabi. The state no longer maintains a word count target that students must achieve to fulfill Gordon Rule credit. WAC syllabi need not make specific note of the word count. Reviewers examine the page requirements listed in the assignment details and assume that each page represents between 250 and 300 words. Substantial revisions and informal writing tasks count toward the targeted word count for the course.

10. The syllabus must contain the following language:

"If this class is selected to participate in the university-wide WAC assessment program, you will be required to access the online assessment server, complete the consent form and survey, and submit electronically a first and final draft of a near-end-of-term paper."

There is a checklist you can use to confirm that your course meets all the criteria.

III. When you are finished, email the form and the syllabus, preferably as one document, in an electronic attachment to the curriculum committee chair ( mharrawo@fau.edu) by the stated deadline. [Please cut and paste the form/syllabi/core form (if applicable) into one Word document.] Proposals that aren't approved by the committee will be sent back to faculty for revision. To expedite the approval process, the curriculum committee is willing to edit proposals that are approved subject to minor non-substantive changes without sending them back to faculty. If you would prefer to have proposals requiring such changes sent back to you first, indicate this when submitting your proposal.

IV. Once the HC Curriculum Committee approves your course for WAC then the following happens:

  1. If it is an existing course that is just being changed to satisfy WAC, the CC chair will send the syllabi to the WAC Director (Jeff Galin), who will review. If the WAC Director requires revisions, you will be notified. If the WAC Director confirms that criteria are met, the CC chair will get all the necessary signatures and the proposal will be forwarded to UUPC.
  2. If it is a new course, upon approval by the CC, it will go to the HC faculty assembly. Once approved, the CC chair will send the syllabus to the WAC Director (Jeff Galin), who will review. If the WAC Director requires revisions, you will be notified. If the WAC Director approves, the CC chair will get all the necessary signatures and the proposal will be forwarded to UUPC.
  3. You can check on whether the UUPC approved your proposal by consulting their minutes, posted online.

1. The syllabus informs students of the writing-intensive nature of the course and explains how the course fulfills the WAC requirements below.
    Yes __   Not yet ___

2. Writing assignments engage students in intellectual activities central to the course objectives.   Yes ___   Not yet __

3. There are at least two graded writing assignments completed out of class.   Yes ___   Not yet ___

4. Writing assignments count for at least 50% of the course grade.   Yes___   Not yet ___

5. Clear, written descriptions of each writing assignment and their evaluation criteria are provided.   Yes___   Not Yet ___

6. Syllabus includes a schedule for writing assignments that allocates class time for discussing strategies to improve student writing.   Yes___   Not Yet___

7. Students are required to make a substantial revision of at least one graded assignment.   Yes___   Not Yet___

8. Substantive written feedback from the instructor is provided on all writing that leads to a grade.   Yes___   Not Yet___

9. Students are required to write 5,000 words (plus or minus 1000).   Yes___   Not Yet___

10. The syllabus contains the following language informing students about the University-wide WAC Assessment project: If this class is selected to participate in the university-wide WAC assessment program, you will be required to access the online assessment server, complete the consent form and survey, and submit electronically a first and final draft of a near-end-of-term paper.   Yes___   Not Yet___

Updated 02/01/2011

1. All WAC syllabi must inform students of the writing-intensive nature of the course, using language such as:

"This writing intensive course serves as one of two "Gordon Rule" classes at the 2000-4000 level that must be taken. You must achieve a grade of "C" (not C-minus) or better to receive credit. Furthermore, this class meets the University-wide Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) criteria, which expect you to improve your writing over the course of the term. Writing-to-learn activities have proven effective in developing critical thinking skills, learning discipline-specific content, and understanding and building competence in the modes of inquiry and writing for various disciplines and professions."

2. All WAC syllabi must indicate that they include writing assignments that engage students in intellectual activities central to the course objectives. For example, if appropriate, you might say: "Writing assignments promote critical thinking and analytical writing; require students to analyze academic discourse and non-academic reportage; encourage students to recognize and examine the intellectual and/or cultural assumptions that underlie course readings and their own writing."

3. WAC syllabi should indicate that at least two graded writing assignments are to be completed out of class. To fulfill this criterion, faculty may create a longer assignment that can be completed in stages that also includes revision.

4. The syllabus must make it clear that writing assignments will count for at least 50% of the course grade. “Graded writing” typically means formal writing assignments that are graded based on writing quality – academic argument, organization, format, sentence level concerns, etc. However, informal writing may also contribute to the course grade. Examples of informal writing may include drafts, revisions, journal entries and reading logs, free writing, written responses to assigned readings, lectures and activities, and writing or oral presentations by other students. The WAC Committtee/Director generally do not count in-class exam essays as graded writing. Faculty who find it difficult to comply with the 50% rule may provide a written justification as part of their course proposal that will be considered by the WAC Committee/Director.

5. The syllabus must provide a clear, written description of each graded writing assignment and its evaluation criteria. Typically, these descriptions are a few sentences long, describing the central features of the project and the general criteria for grading. There is no need to incorporate full writing assignment descriptions in the syllabus.

For example: “This will be a five page paper requiring the students to respond to a prompt that requires critical engagement with assigned texts, formation and defense of a thesis, and citation of texts to support the argument. Grading will be based on overall coherence, grammar, extent to which supporting evidence is appropriately cited, persuasiveness of the argument, and extent to which an understanding of the texts is demonstrated."

6. Approved syllabi include a schedule for writing assignments that allocates class time for discussing strategies to improve student writing. Some class time scheduling options include:
  • Discussion of assignments and of evaluation criteria.
  • Analysis and discussion of sample student papers, including writing-in-progress and formal drafts.
  • Peer group activities that prepare students to write a particular paper, such as sharing and discussion of plans, outlines, strategies, theses and drafts.
  • Discussion or presentations of students' research in progress.
  • Instruction about how to write a particular type of paper or solving a common writing problem.
  • Discussion of writing particular elements of a paper such as thesis statements, introductions, topic sentences, conclusions, etc.

7. WAC syllabi require students to make a substantial revision of at least one graded assignment; this can be a global revision involving a major re-working of the paper. All students are invited to use University Center for Excellence in Writing (UCEW) error tracking system, which is available through the UCEW scheduling system.

8. The syllabus must include a plan for students to receive substantive written feedback from the instructor on all writing that leads to a grade; Typically, a brief statement is included in the syllabus that explains when formal commentary will be provided.

9. Approved WAC syllabi require each student to write a target of 5,000 words (+ or – 1,000 words). This target is intended to help professors gauge the minimal amount of writing that is typically considered appropriate for WAC syllabi. The state no longer maintains a word count target that students must achieve to fulfill Gordon Rule credit. WAC syllabi need not make specific note of the word count. Reviewers examine the page requirements listed in the assignment details and assume that each page represents between 250 and 300 words. Substantial revisions and informal writing tasks count toward the targeted word count for the course.

10. The syllabus must contain the following language:

"If this class is selected to participate in the university-wide WAC assessment program, you will be required to access the online assessment server, complete the consent form and survey, and submit electronically a first and final draft of a near-end-of-term paper."

There is a checklist you can use to confirm that your course meets all the criteria.



Last Modified 10/13/14